Jun 17 , 2020

Electrical Wiring: How to Run Power Anywhere

Overview: Project Scope, Special Tools, Materials and Costs

Dragging extension cords across the yard to power the weed whip, fumbling around in a dark shed…most of us take these hassles for granted. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a day’s work, you can run electrical lines to any part of your yard.

This article will show you how to bring power to a shed, but the process is almost identical if you want to simply mount an outlet on a post planted in the soil. A licensed electrician would charge at least several hundred dollars plus materials to run lines from your house to a shed 50 feet away (not including any work inside your house). You can do the job yourself for a materials cost of about $140. These are the 13 things your electrician wants you to know.

Here’s How to Run Power Anywhere:

The Family HandymanDealing With Electrical Wires That Are Too Short The Family Handyman editor, Rick Muscoplat, shows you how to splice in jumper wires to give you the slack you need.


Running Power Through RMC

We’ll show you how to run wires through rigid metal conduit (RMC). This method offers the best protection of the wiring and requires the least amount of digging. It also lets you install a GFCI outlet at the end of the line rather than at the house, which means you’ll never have to run back to the house to reset a tripped GFCI. Here’s how to connect the wiring inside the outbuilding or connecting to power in your house.

If you want to provide a dedicated circuit to the shed, hire an electrician to make the final connection in your main electrical panel. Otherwise you can connect to an existing circuit if the circuit has enough capacity and the box you’re connecting to has enough volume for the additional wires.

Running Wires Inside Rigid Conduit

To run the wires inside rigid conduit, you’ll need a hacksaw, a pipe bender capable of bending 1/2-in. rigid conduit with an outside diameter of 3/4-in., and a fish tape long enough to reach through the buried pipe. You’ll also need a pair of pipe wrenches to screw the sections of pipe together, a drill and one-inch bit capable of penetrating your siding, and wire cutting and stripping tools. The total cost of this project is typically about $2.20 for every foot of buried conduit, plus about $25 for LB fittings and miscellaneous hardware. Plus, these are the 8 most common national electric code violations.

A few weeks before you start the project, contact your local building department to obtain an electrical permit if one is required. Then a few days before you dig, call 811 to have your underground utility lines marked. Learn more at call811.com.

Using Metal Conduit Means Less Digging

  • Running wires inside rigid metal conduit (RMC) is a little more expensive than burying underground feeder cable (UF), but it saves labor.
  • This is because the top edge of RMC has to be only six inches below the surface of the ground, while UF must be buried 12 inches deep (deeper in some situations).
  • That extra six inches of trench depth may not seem like a big deal. But it adds hours of backbreaking work, especially if you have rocky soil, hard clay or lots of tree roots.

Metal Conduit Means Less Digging

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